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Time flies when you’re having fun, except… July 6, 2013

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writing-a-bookAccording to my log, it has been close to 2 months since last I wrote here. I think I am seeing a trend. I am scheduling things, planning things, and then letting them slip. I plan on doing a regular blog here, once a week on a Wednesday, and a business based blog on my website once a week. I plan on releasing a newsletter once a month. In all three cases I have let myself slip. I have my reasons, but when you take a step back, perhaps i need to say to myself- no more excuses?

Well, let me look at these excuses.

This blog? I have been particularly busy in the 2 months since April. I have made the transition from scraping a living, to break even and into the black. I picked up 7 clients in 2 months, who want regular social media from me. Plus the odd job here and there. I am now working on my time management so I don’t get overwhelmed with just 7 clients, and I can handle even more, and this is working. But the process to get there did steal time away from other writing.

The newsletter? In the month of June, I attended 2 funerals- one for my grandfather, and then literally 2 weeks later, for a refereeing mentor, and father of one of my good friends. Both of these events threw me, I must be honest. I would start to write and just not be in the mood. I have not been in the mood before and broke on through, I believe this has been something I have gained this year- being able to write, for my job, even when I didn’t want to. But this was different. And people I knew were sympathetic to me, and understood why I stopped and lay down for a while.

excuses-flow1My weekly business blog? Catching up on work, and being busy with work, I let a couple of weeks slip by. Poor time management, as I said before, of which I am tightening up on.

Maybe it is a mid-season slump. The second act in a three-act play which will pick up in the final third. I think this may be the case. That stunned moment when lots of good things happen to you, mixed in with a couple of real bad things. Then you get yourself back on the metaphorical horse, and get riding again.

I wrote about 10k words of my novel in this time. That sounds like a lot, but it was all done in a two-day moment of clarity. Other than those 2 days, it has continued to be relegated down my list of things to do. It was a year ago that I released the first book. I said I would get the second book out by now. Wow, letting the fans down.

So, I think I came into this blog to put it out there that I have not kept up my end of this bargain I have made, but I recognise it. So, just before the end of the second act, a spark of hope will appear. Could it be? Could he really?

Stay tuned to find out….

One big leap for this writer… June 26, 2012

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I am writing this blog post after I put the finishing little buff of the arm sleeve to my book, The Girl From Out of Town. This is very exciting for me, very scary, very, LARGE. This weekend, I am releasing my first novel to the world. While people have tasted a free sample, and many of those people loved it and pestered me for the whole book, this will be the first time I have ever released a significant body of work.

I have written 9 other novels through Nanowrimo and various friends and family have read them and said I should publish them, and while I nodded my head and said- sure, just one more re-write, I have never been at this point before. No more re-writes. No more telling someone that I am just doing a bit more editing. This is it. The book I have sitting on my hard drive, and on my USB key, and emailed to three different email addresses and a friend, is about to be published, by me.

I am quite nervous, I must admit. I have invested a lot of time and energy into this, and it is something that I created, so I do hope people like it. I am trying to ready myself for the haters, reading advice such as this – ‘Someone will hate your book‘ and this one ‘It’s okay if you’re not perfect‘. I like the second one because it mentions a person who afraid of failure they never got published. That would be me, some time ago…

There is another post I have read about people hating your book, and how inevitable it is, and something about how there are people who hate puppies, so like, if there are people who hate puppies of COURSE there will be people who hate your book.

It is also going to be a relief to get this book out there, so I can then move onto the next book. I am not one of these people who can have multiple writing projects on the go. Mind you, having said that, I have had the novel, 2 websites and a safety guide on the go, at the same time, in past weeks. So, who knows.

Tonight I helped one of my editors create a Facebook page (And by help I pretty much made her do it), and from there, conversation lead to different ways to market your book. Scarlett, the lady who designed the cover for my book, is going on a Virtual Book Tour, her tour dates are HERE. I am thinking of doing something similar as well. We discussed book trailers, especially after I witnessed an awesome 30 second YouTube ad for an editor in Sydney, with grungy guitar riffs. I won’t link to the video because, sadly, he has put typoes into his description, and I would like to give him the chance to edit himself before we all go and see it. But, a girl I know who is a multimedia creator is interested in working on a book trailer, so that could be loads of fun.

So, this is going to be a crazy couple of days. Investigate B&N and Amazon, put a new page on my website for the book, discuss marketing options, re-brand my professional writing self, umpire basketball, go to a house warming, read tarot cards. OH MY GOSH! Busy little vegemite!

Act 1 is now up and free to download February 19, 2012

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You can now read Act 1 of my steam punk adventure novel- The Girl From Out of Town. Follow this link – http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/matthewfarmer

The Next step is still waiting to be taken February 18, 2012

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What a week! The day that I was supposed to launch Act 1 of my book, and Smashwords fell down. I have been checking their Site Update blog every day, sometimes every hour, but the file validation and conversion program- Meatgrinder, is still off-line. I have been trying every day to get my book up, but to no avail.

It feels like such an anti-climax. I busted a hump last weekend editing, re-writing, butting heads with my editor. And then Tuesday morning… nothing! All week… nothing!

I must say, the marketing campaign I implemented had a lot of people asking me where my book was. I visited my old workplace and they all asked how it was going and when they could read it. My old team leader said she was going to email me on Tuesday to ask how it was going, but thought, with all the excitement I was going through, to perhaps leave off for a day or two. Heh, I like the sentiment, but little did she know…

Copy Writing trundles along well. Two people would like me to write newsletters for them. Which is good, since a job popped up online which had a lot of newsletter components involved. So I applied. There’s a potential informercial magazine concept coming up which would involve interviews and research and writing. It has been a while since I interviewed people. Fun working out the right questions to ask, and transcribing and all that. I do find some mundane things fun, don’t I?

Ah well. time for the weekend. I will most definitely tell the WORLD when my book is ready for you all to have a look at and give me awesome feedback!

The day before the rest of my life… February 13, 2012

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A little dramatic, I know, but it is kind of how I am feeling. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, February 14th. The date that I proclaimed I would release my debut novel, The Girl From Out of Town on to an unsuspecting world. Well, if you were reading this blog you might have suspected something.

That plan changed, and I offered a free preview, Act 1, to grab readers who want to know the rest of the story. Still to be released on February 14th. This nearly did not come to pass. I gave one of my editors permission to go balls’n’all nasty on my manuscript. I thought – it’s not THAT bad. I received something to the contrary back from her.

Now, admittedly this was an email conversation, and upon actually talking the news wasn’t all THAT bad. She wanted MORE description. I was sitting in the school of an economics of writing. Write the scene in as few words as possible to get the story across. But she wanted more, more description of the environment. I am creating a rich and colourful world, so I should show the world. And some of the scenes had no direction, there were a lot of names no one would remember, things like that.

This left me deflated on Sunday. But, we came to a compromise. I want to get something out as a free preview. I have added some more colour and depth, I have removed names that are irrelevant, my poor lead character only has 3 friends now, not 4. I removed an entire plot hook since even I saw it was kind of dumb.

And so now I sit, late afternoon, February 13th. I have yet to format to Smashword’s specifications. I must go out and run around a basketball court now. And then come home and figure it out. Should be easy, right?

But, I am sitting here, and I am paranoid scared and proud. I am paranoid people are going to read it and find spelling errors. Words which are spelled correctly but are the wrong word for that place, and they will think- what a hack. Couldn’t get that edited out? I am waiting for me to find something I left in which could have been better! And then I should re-write it and re-publish it and tell everyone- hey! I changed 5 words! Download the new version!

I am scared because I have never done this before. I have let people read my work before, but I knew them. This is the internet we are talking about now. There are far more people out there I don’t know, than I do. There is a possibility they wont like what I have written. I am both okay with this and not okay with this. A) Okay with is because not everyone likes everything. People are entitled to their opinion, and I know, in myself, that it’s a good story. I enjoyed writing the story, I love the characters and the world I have created. So in myself, I like it. However B) because I like it so much, I want everyone else to like it as well. And if they don’t, and if they throw mud at me, that might hurt. That would give my inside voices ammunition to use against me.

And I am proud because this is a MASSIVE step along that journey I started ages ago. I started this blog to chart my journey as a writer, and this here is a massive step along the way. I announced a date and, while I had to compromise along the way, I am sticking to that date. That is something I am proud of.

Tomorrow is most definitely going to be a strange day.

Happy New Writing Year! January 5, 2012

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Hello and welcome to 2012. The Mayans think the world is going to end this year. I don’t believe it, however we’re going to have one hell of a party on that night.

So, New Year means resolutions, right? Well, I personally do not make NYR’s. Back in my more emo-poetic days I would say that I didn’t want to make promises to myself that I would only break. Now it is more like, I would rather set goals for myself, achieve them or excel them, but not feel guilty about not making them.

So, my goals for the new year? Get my Steam Punk book- A Girl From Out of Town out there and published on Smashwords. I have announced the date as Valentines Day, and I do intend to stick to that date. I am waiting to hear from 5 Beta Readers who told me they could read the book and give me feedback by the end of the first week in January. I know 2 of them have read or are reading the book. The other 3, I don’t know. Waiting on them to get back to me with independent feedback bugs me a little. But I will talk on that later. No, actually I will talk on that now.

Another goal I am implementing this year is to create more action MYSELF, rather than relying on others. While I cannot do everything myself, and I do like to support and use my networks, last year there was a lot of waiting for someone else to get stuff done, often weeks later than it should have taken, before I could take a step forward. While I can understand and accept that in some cases the people were very busy, one friend in particular, it was still aggravating not being able to promote me, because I had to rely on others.

So, this year I am going to try and do a lot myself. I have DL flyers promoting me. So now I am going to go around the neighbourhood, introduce myself as a copy writer, offer them the $100 deal, and ask that they have my flyers on their counter in case someone rocks up and might need me. I am going to get the cover for my novel, in electronic colourful wonderful format and promote theout of myself. I will see what I need for a banner ad on forums. I will bribe friends with chocolate, tweet and retweet and again, offer chocolate. I will suggest more ways people can use me as a copy writer, and how it is a good idea.

I opened the bottle of Moet which my friends from my last job gave me on New Years Eve at midnight. They said to open it when I got a new job. I figure 2012 is going to be my new job. It is going to be the year that my freelance career becomes viable. That my novel is published and makes some money. That I find some good part-time or temp work to pay the bills and relieve some of that stress. I am going to work, at what I want this year.

I will keep this updated to chart the path of my writing journey. I will keep my twitter feed going and my Facebook page updated. All part of the joy of an online platform.

Also, I will try and share resources, web pages, and other things, relevant to writing, and relevant to me. In that vein, may I present- 8 Secrets Which Writers Wont Tell You.

These are truths. Absolute writing truths. Sometimes I wish I could share these with clients, but you need to put that confident face on, that you know what you are doing, and that you are happy with your work on. Even if you’re not. Even if you’re worried that they might think- this is crap, who is this guy? I could have written this, why am I paying him so much for this pile of turd? I will put the poker face on when my novel is up for sale. While friends and hopefully people I don’t know, say- awesome book! Bring on the next one! I will sit there and go- that could have been better, oh crap I left that in. Its really not my best work….

Writing is such a personal thing. It comes from within the creator, from within me. Be it the creative romps of novel-writing, or the ordered copy writing for a client, it is all something created by me, by the writer. For me, there is always that higher level for potential of failure. It’s not like a regular job of A + B = product at $X, thank you come again. So each time I produce copy for a client and hand it over, it is me, in that piece. It is a part of me that could be rejected as- this is not what we were looking for. And for me, to continually put myself under the spot light, to repeatedly put my writing core on the chopping block, is a scary scary thing. I dont think even the most experienced writer is ever fully immune to the fear. But this is another thing this year I am going to, not conquer, but to recognise and face and accept.

Every time I write, every time I give someone a piece of my work, I am afraid and scared of their reaction. But that is okay. Face my fears and do it anyway.

2012 is going to be huge, massive, and awesome. And then its going to end with a huge party.

Are eBooks too cheap? Huffington Post Article December 23, 2011

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Through the Writers Beware Facebook group, I discovered this article in the Huffington Post- Are eBooks Too Cheap?

I have yet to determine the pricing of my pending eBook, so this makes excellent reading. While I can see the sense in having a book cost only 99 cents, I know the time and effort I put into this work, and feel that low price would not to me justice, or the book justice. It would cheapen the book. It may widen my readership, but at what cost?

I will read more about this in the coming weeks the closer my launch date becomes.

4 simple ideas October 22, 2011

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I was directed to this site by various means, the most obvious was someone sending me the link to click on… obviously.

A simple four-item formula for turning story into fiction

And so now I share it with you.

I am glad I have found it before I start Nanowrimo, so I can keep it in the back of my mind while I write. Each chapter, something will happen, the characters will move from one space to the next space, each chapter.

I am going to keep that in mind.

I also like the idea of reusing characters. I like making characters, and being encouraged to reuse them because readers remember them and have an affinity or attachment to them makes sense and is a good idea.

Just a quick stop here. I am building my world. There is just over a week to go and things are heating up.

The science of werewolves, and the uses of a dragon’s body. June 7, 2011

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Traveling home from work yesterday, reading the free newspaper commuters read, I came across a story where scientists have discovered the ‘werewolf gene‘. It has been a scientific fact for a long time, people who have excessive facial or body hair. But now they have found the werewolf gene!

This excited me because now, for me, werewolves fit a certain kind of logic which I appreciate. When creating worlds, magic, ships which fly through the stars, there needs to be a logic, even if it is your own logic. You need to understand the world you have created, otherwise it will not make sense to you, and your readers will see this.

The magic in my steam punk world is based on sigil magic, the power of the written word, of symbols. Well, most of it. I have always believed sorcerers had magic in the blood. Hmm, maybe the blood cells could be covered in sigils at a tiny microscopic level. . .  anyway. There is a logic, to me, for my magic system.  Functional magic, alchemy, it all has a logic to me.

And now, werewolves have come into my logic. Don’t get me wrong, I love the mystical and supernatural about werewolves. Something controlled by lunar cycles, the irresistible urge of nature. I have grown up reading high fantasy and science fiction. So having a creature turn hairy and howl at the sight of a full moon is fantastic and I like it. It’s just now there can be an actually truth behind the werewolf, a logic.

There are cars controlled by mind control; growing replacement body parts with your own stem cells; cloning; artificial intelligence and cybernetic eyes. Right there you have scientific logic to create an awesome cyberpunk story. It would not be too far-fetched, even by today’s technology.

All we need now are flying cars… 

Kind of related to this, and my need of logic, is something I have been thinking about this week. Dragons. In my steam punk world they exist. I am now thinking about scale. I have dracon, or draca, not sure what to call them yet. Tiny dragons, the size of your forearm perhaps. Skittery little creatures that can be domesticated, if you feed them well. Great for keep the local rat population under control. But there are also the larger dragons. But how large do I want them? Large enough to ride? Massive and imposing? Or like a large cat or whale shark?

This question has become important to me in the sense of what can you do with a dragon’s body? I have uses for them. Dragon scale shavings in potions and anti-dragon ammunition; dragon-proof clothing. Meat? Ivory trophies? All of which I plan on including. But, if the dragon is too large, does that mean hunting and killing one provides you with a massive bounty? Sure, high risk, high reward. But I plan on some of my characters having dragon related paraphernalia. DId they get it themselves? And if so, why are they all not fabulously wealthy?

And if the dragons are large beasts of magnificence, are there few of them? An old ancient race with dwindling numbers? Then that makes me sad killing one for dragon meat and dragon leather.

I am leaning towards the size of a large cat. That fits the mould of a hunter, for me. A large hunter at the top of the food chain, yet still within the realms of being hunted. And if you manage to kill one, you get some dragon scale, claws, meat etc, but not enough to make you super wealthy.

This is something which I am enjoying about my current world building project. I would never have bothered to think about the size of a dragon, or what things could be harvested from a dead dragon’s body. But I like the logic of an aerial hunter that is fast quick and vicious, yet intelligent and wise. Plus, it lends itself nicely to the smaller dragon kind, much like domesticated cats.

As an addendum to this, rather large post, I believe I mentioned in previous blog posts about my love for electronic publishing. Call me slow to realise, or LTTP (Late To The Party), but I have recently discovered Smashwords. I am looking at stringing together some short stories and posting it on there. I will blog about this in future, the dilemma of free books to garner an audience, or setting a price for the books to obtain READERS, not just those who grab free stuff for reading later if they feel like it.

I have also mentioned previously on my love of werewolves, and those who may be real, it seems finding a werewolf gene, and Smashwords, caused some delightful symmetry. Lunar Nights. I don’t have an e-reader yet, so I am not going to buy this now, but I like how this werewolf has popped out of her blog and into Smashwords.

My turn next.

Ideas are not Stories February 13, 2011

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I am thinking about creative writing a lot lately. I did say I wanted to write a short story every month, so I am thinking on things, about what I can write, scrambling for ideas, going to the note files, seeing what is there. And I see that I have a lot of ideas there. I got a great idea this week, and wrote it in my new note-book. But, while it is a great idea, it isn’t a story.

I am beginning to believe that the feedback for the stories I have submitted may be due to this. I have been told they were great ideas, but nothing happened. And that describes an idea. Great idea, but nothing happens.

Various sites which I Google tell me that the elements of a story are Setting, Plot, Conflict, Character, Point of View and Theme. And I look at some of my stories and, to be harsh but fair, I don’t think that they have all those elements. I think I do pretty well with Setting, character, POV and theme, maybe sometimes thin on the theme side of things. Sometimes I just like to write without thinking of an overall theme.

Plot and Conflict seem to be my two weakest areas. Give me a novel and I can give you all of those points in spades. I can set up conflict, many conflicts in the same story if I need to. But it takes me a novel to get everything in there.

I am grabbing some coloured post its, and sticking them to the side of my monitor which list all of these elements. That way I can have a checklist, if you will, to make sure I put all of these elements into each short story I write.

Now, this may seem that I’ve written short stories without these for years and I have just had an epiphany.  This is not entirely the case, honest. Its just the last few I have had seem to be great ideas for a bigger picture, and if that bigger picture was to be painted, would include all these elements. But, I am consciously trying to write shorts, and I NEED these elements to make a STORY.

So, I had a new idea during the week, about a girl who was incredibly psychic, and some scientists who are discussing her, and how much she knew, and the diary she kept. A good idea, with a couple of twists at the end, but looking at that list, there is no plot, not really. There is some conflict in that she is kept a prisoner by scientists to be studied. Setting is in the scientist’s facility, characters being the scientists, and the girl of course. POV would be from the scientists, and theme… well it’s not nice to keep a powerful young girl prisoner, that’s just mean.

But the big missing thing? Plot. What happens? Why does it happen? What resolution is there? I don’t know. It is an idea, jotted down in the notebook, waiting. Waiting for something to strike me and go AH HA!

On another note, in a recent blog post, which included a reference to zombies, I had a late start during the week. So, an hour before work I found a cafe, which sells AWESOME cakes I must say, and sat and wrote. I wrote for a good hour. And I don’t just say that. It was a GOOD hour. While I enjoy the word count from the train, half hour lunch and bits here and there. A good solid hour felt good. I wrote a scene, I finally got all the fiddly procrastination done with. Now I can throw my characters at the End Of Game boss and see who gets killed and who comes out alive. I have turned my savior into a selfish man with a severe disconnect from real people. I have finished the chapter. It was good.

Not this week, but next week I have 2 late days in a row, so again, I am going to find that cafe, and try a cake, a different cake each day, and write some more. I haven’t written much this week. Been busy each night. And reading a good book. Have decided to read on the train which leads to reading at lunch. Good book, what can I say?

Ah, the dilemma. Should I read this great book, or write? Gosh! I don’t know…